In an unprecedented move by Cloudflare, the DDoS protection provider has fired neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer as a customer, following a string of similar moves by web hosting firms earlier this week.
In a decision announced Wednesday, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said that it terminated Daily Stormer’s account and is taking measures to “ensure they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services ever again.”
“Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology,” Prince said in a blog post. “Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.”
Cloudflare has run into criticism before for its neutral stance, but it’s not the only internet services company that has had to grapple with similar decisions. Recently, Shopify had to defend its decision to provide services to Breitbart, the controversial right-wing website.
In a 2013 interview, Cloudflare CEO Prince said that he doesn’t believe his political beliefs “should color what is and is not allowed to flow over the network.”
This latest decision challenges that position somewhat, as Prince acknowledges in the blog post, which you can read in full here.
“The issue of who can and cannot be online has often been associated with Freedom of Speech. We think the more important principle is Due Process. I, personally, believe in strong Freedom of Speech protections, but I also acknowledge that it is a very American idea that is not shared globally. On the other hand, the concept of Due Process is close to universal. At its most basic, Due Process means that you should be able to know the rules a system will follow if you participate in that system,” Prince said. “Due Process requires that decisions be public and not arbitrary. It’s why we’ve always said that our policy is to follow the guidance of the law in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Law enforcement, legislators, and courts have the political legitimacy and predictability to make decisions on what content should be restricted. Companies should not.”
Also this week in the wake of the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Apple Pay and PayPal have disabled support from sites that sell merchandise with Nazi symbols and promote or raise funds to promote hate, violence and intolerance.